LEWISTON — This month, L/A Arts is featuring the work of local paper quilling artist Jude Bellas in the Arts and Ale window at Gritty’s Pub, 68 Main St.

Bellas is a native of the Lewiston-Auburn area and is retired from a career in substance abuse counseling. She has an adult daughter and son, and a young grandson.

She enjoys the serenity of nature, which is the inspiration for her art. Bellas began paper quilling about six years ago and is a member of the North American Quillers Guild. She says a great deal of “patience and good eye glasses” are required to complete the fine filigree art work.

Twirling thin pieces of paper into lace-like flowers and birds has become a favorite pastime, especially during the winter months when she prefers to stay inside where it’s warm. Many of her creations take days, and some take weeks, to complete.

Recently, Bellas finished the head of a bald eagle on a U.S. flag background.
And for something different, she just completed a 3D chess set made entirely of paper.

The term “paper quilling” comes from the way strips of paper were twirled on the end of a feather quill. Although quilling has taken a more modern form in recent years, it comes from a centuries-old art form that was used to embellish furniture, books and often framed for wall art.

Monks, nuns and even “ladies of leisure” spent hours making fine filigree patterns, some of which survive today and can be seen in museums. One remarkable piece in Hillsboro, Ohio, is made entirely of human hair. Others include work made from the gold edges of ancient book pages, cut into thin strips and fashioned into amazing patterns.

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